Dark Sky Compliant

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) was founded in 1988 by the professional astronomer David Crawford and physician Tim Hunter. The IDA’s mission is to protect and preserve the nighttime environment and minimize light pollution through the use of high quality outdoor lighting. 


Light pollution is caused by lighting that is not properly shielded and causes glare. Up lighting shining into the night sky above the horizon, according to IDA, causes what is known as sky glow. 


So how does this affect all of us in the landscape lighting business?  It is important for all of us to be aware of staying dark sky complaint.  Many homeowner associations have dark sky ordinances in place.  Some cities have also embraced these practices.  When working in such neighborhoods, it is good practice to check the community rule book and/or meet with the city lighting inspector. This will provide a clear guideline of the regulations required. Checking in and keeping open communication with the inspectors on a semi-annual basis can keep a contractor informed of any changes in the regulations. 


For commercial path lighting, the use of a fully shielded fixture (light only directed downward with no adjustability) is normally the requirement in these communities.

This would also be required on architectural lighting such as a wall pack or sconce. The illumination of walls, signage and monuments are also allowed as long as the light is directed on the object and not facing upwards into the night sky.


Communities may allow for some actual up lighting, however there will likely be a limit on the lamp size and color temperature.  Shields to block any side glare may be required.  The contractor may also be given a maximum lumen or foot candle limitation that will be checked by the inspector.


Being proactive and understanding the regulations ahead of time will give the contractor or designer the proper credibility when bidding projects with dark sky requirements.


To learn more about the IDA, visit their website at darksky.org

Kevin SmithComment